A rogue landlord who potentially put lives at risk by renting out accomodation which failed to meet safety standards has been banned from operating as a landlord by South Ayrshire Council.
In a first for the council, the action confirms that Leonardo Ippolito, from Ayr, is not considered a fit and proper person to be registered as a private landlord.
This follows decisions taken by the council’s regulatory panel to revoke his registration in November 2013 and to refuse his application for a new registration in August 2014.
Mr Ippolito appealed both those decisions but at Ayr Sheriff Court on Monday, Ippolito submitted an undertaking that he had exhausted his right of appeal and agreed not to pursue any further action.
Once he has discharged his duties to end his tenancies it will be a criminal offence for him to operate as a landlord.
The council had been trying for a number of years to ensure Ippolito’s properties were meeting all legal and safety requirements but found certain properties in a state of serious concern.
A property in Coylton had an exposed trench around it as well as exposed electrics whilst a flat in Ayr High Street which was rented out to a couple with a small child was found to have bars on the windows of the child’s bedroom and bathroom which could have prevented a safe evacuation in the result of a fire.
A flat in Ayr’s Dalblair Road which was rented out to the father of a toddler who stayed with him for part of the week had water coming through a tight socket and a first floor bedroom door leading to a sheer drop down to ground level.
Ippolito had up to 14 properties rented out any one time and inspections found no valid gas safety certificates at any of the properties and inadequate smoke alarm provision in more than half the properties, whilst almost half the properties were below the tolerable standard, which means they were unacceptable as living accommodation. Every property was in need of maintenance and repair.
Following these inspections, Council officers instructed Mr Ippolito – who has three convictions for operating unlicensed Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) – to carry out the necessary works to bring the properties up to the required standard as soon as possible.
However, he failed to do so and steps were taken to revoke his registration.
Councillor Philip Saxton, South Ayrshire Council’s Portfolio Holder for Housing and Customer First, said: “The removal of Mr Ippolito from the Register of Landlords brings to an end a long and arduous process that would have been completely unnecessary if he had only conducted himself as a fit and proper landlord – as the majority are – rather than continuing to operate these houses of horror.
“He was given many chances to take action and operate as he should, but he chose to put profit above anything else and that decision has now well and truly come home to roost. We cannot and will not tolerate landlords who take advantage of some of the most vulnerable members of our communities to make a quick buck and I want that message to be heard loud and clear.
“Mr Ippolito’s properties clearly did not and we can only be thankful that no one was seriously hurt or injured as a result of the conditions they were forced to live in.
“We will be contacting all of Mr Ippolito’s tenants to discuss their housing options with them to ensure they get the standard of home and the quality of life they deserve.”
Under the terms of the Antisocial Behaviour etc. (Scotland) Act 2004, Mr Ippolito can re-apply for landlord registration after one year of being removed. Any such application – if forthcoming – would be considered by South Ayrshire Council’s Regulatory Panel.